#Better for Brookes

The needs of students have been repeatedly ignored by the Government throughout this pandemic, and students deserve better. That’s why we’ve launched this campaign, to lobby the University to give students a fair deal, which takes account of all the difficulties students have faced this year.

The feedback you have given us in the past week has shaped the list of demands which we are taking to the University. We want the University to respond to and implement the following measures, in order to adequately meet the needs of students.

There’s a list of actions you can take in support of this campaign below!

The list of Demands

  1. Implement a no detriment policy or academic adjustment policy immediately

    The university should implement a no detriment policy, as well as allow all students the chance for an uncapped resit on all exams and coursework.

  2. Give deadline extensions on dissertations and coursework in semester two

    All students should be offered extensions on dissertations and coursework, as many students (especially final year and placement students) are now unable to access books and other vital resources.

  3. Rent refunds for all students in Brookes Halls, third party halls and those renting from private landlords

    All students in Brookes owned accommodation should be given a 50% rent reduction in line with their second wave covid commitment. The University should work with third party halls providers to ensure that all students are given the same refund. The University should also use its power to lobby private landlords to offer students refunds and allow them to leave contracts with no financial penalties.

  4. Reduce university tuition fees

    We’re calling on students to lobby the Government to reduce tuition fees for undergraduates living at home from £9,250 to £3000, bringing fees in line with those charged by online Universities, as well as offering a comparable reduction in fees for International and PG students. The University should use its influence to lobby national Government to offer tuition fee refunds and reduce the cost of tuition.

  5. Provide better access to libraries, and increase the amount of wellbeing provision

    The University should allow self-service at all of its libraries to allow students to access books and resources, as well as investing in greater e-book provision. Many students, for example final year students, are unable to complete dissertations without access to the library. Opening hours should be extended for as long as it is feasible and safe to do so. The University should also invest in wellbeing support and activities, to support the mental health of students in this third lockdown.

  6. Better support for healthcare students and students on placements

    Healthcare students have been heroes during this pandemic - many have risked their lives to work with the NHS during the pandemic while receiving little or no pay. Our students on healthcare courses and other vital placements are being overworked - juggling placements and education. The University should offer a better package of support, to thank our healthcare students, and to ensure that they are given support in the form of a no detriment policy to protect their academic and professional achievements.

    We recently met with University leaders to discuss these issues, you can read a summary of the key points here

What can you do now?

  1. Sign our petition for a no-detriment policy
  2. Sign this national petition for a tuition fee refund for all students nationwide.
  3. Join students from around the UK and share your stories on social media using #ForgottenStudents
  4. Write to your local MP (find their details here) demanding that they take action to support students, using this template letter from NUS.
  5. Write to your landlord using our template letter
  6. Check back here soon. We have more actions planned for the next couple of days, and will be posting updates on our progress.

Updates

Thursday 25th March

It’s been a while since we wrote an update but we have been working on a number of things to support you. 

  • We hosted a Q&A with University leaders where we put your questions to them on everything from a no-detriment policy to graduations, access to wellbeing to tap water on campus. Check out the recording here and let us know what you thought of their responses. Your feedback will help us shape the next one of these events, as well as our conversations with the University. 

  • Niamh appeared on BBC South Today talking about why the Government should reimburse tuition fees and the difficulties students have been facing with lack of access to resources

  • We’ve been attending MIT (Major Incident Team) meetings every week, where we put forward any questions you’ve raised directly to the senior leaders of the university.Please do keep sending your questions in!

  • Academic Covid (a meeting where, as the name suggests,academic decisions are made) takes place tomorrow (Fri 26 Feb.) We are once again putting forward the argument that the University must immediately adopt and announce a series of support measures for students. We know that this year so many students have been impacted by factors outside of their control. 

  • The sports bar will be opening again soon in line with the latest government guidance, something we pushed for.

  • We know that some students were having issues finding a space on campus to study. The University has opened up more teaching rooms in JHBB and Clerici is also open for you to use. The University has said they will continue to monitor to make sure there is enough seating available!

Friday 19th February

WIN!!!

Brookes Sport have announced they will be refunding BUCS fees! This is something Niamh our VP Activities & Employability has been working on over the past few months, pushing the sports centre to refund students.

Wednesday 3rd February

Government Response to Tuition Fee Petition

On the 26th January the Government responded to the petition calling for a reduction in tuition fees to £3000. The government stated they are not considering a reduction in maximum fee levels to £3000. The full written response can be found here.
Although this is disappointing it doesn’t mean that we will stop fighting for tuition fee refunds. We will continue to call on the University to lobby the Government on tuition fee refunds, as well as lobbying central Government ourselves - alongside students’ unions from across England.

Our Meeting with Vice Chancellors Group

As you may have seen in our Instagram updates last week, the sabbatical officers met with the Vice Chancellors Group (VCG) on Tuesday and spoke to them about their recent communications with students. It was a really productive and useful meeting as we expressed your feedback to senior members of the University. The main outcomes of the meeting were:

  • We sent over a list of questions from students to VCG and they agreed to answer them. Questions included covered: the 28 day cancellation fee, the camera on policy and what support there is for the mental wellbeing of students.

  • VCG agreed to create a video explaining the rationale behind some of their decisions (detailed in the latest email). Notably they explained decisions behind not agreeing to implement a no detriment policy for this semester; the Uni are looking at different types of no detriment and it hasn’t been ruled out for semester 2.

  • We broached the subject of senior leaders of the Uni attending a town hall style event where you could get your questions answered and express your feelings to the uni. VCG agreed to go away and think about this in terms of logistics and delivery.

  • VCG also agreed to formally acknowledge the work of the Union in the video and clarify that they are listening to us and taking on board your feedback.

We will continue to update you when we have more information from the University.

Wednesday 20th January

Supporting healthcare students

Niamh (our VP Activities and Employability) attended a meeting on Tue 19 Jan with other SUs to talk about the latest guidance issued from the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) and how this affects our nursing students. The main issues discussed were:

  • students having to make up placement hours
  • students sick leave being used up by COVID
  • paid placements for students

We are now working with other SUs to lobby the NMC to support fair working conditions for student nurses on placements, ensuring they are able to complete their placement hours safely and without disadvantage.

There wasn't enough time to answer all the questions in the live town hall meeting, but questions which were submitted have been answered by University leaders and are available here: Town Hall submitted questions and answers

Friday 15th January

Supporting healthcare students

On Wed we hosted a town hall (open forum) with healthcare students and University leaders. Thanks to everyone who attended. This was useful for both parties: students got their questions answered and the University was made aware of problems and heard from students first-hand. You can find the key points here.

We are meeting with other Unions to discuss how we support students with lobbying national bodies.

Academic issues

On Thu the team attended Academic Covid (where decisions around academic experience are made) and presented our arguments for a no-detriment policy, uncapped resits and deadline extensions. These conversations are still going on and the officer team are fighting for these.

Monday 11th January

University hall refunds win!

We are delighted that the University has listened to student feedback and acted swiftly to offer students in its own halls, who are not currently living there, a 50% rent refund in line with its second wave commitment.

This is a huge success! Thank you to everyone who joined our campaign.

The University is contacting all students to explain how the refund will work, so keep an eye on your emails for the full details. They'll also be sharing details of how you can apply to be released from your contract.

We're also really pleased to announce that Unite Students will be offering a 4-week 50% rent refund, starting from 18 Jan. Alongside this Unite will also be offering a 4-week free extension to the end of your tenancy if you wish. We are continuing lobbying for students in all third-party halls and private accommodation to receive a refund - as well as lobbying the University to place pressure on their third-party hall providers.

Update on no-detriment policy

Last week we took our no detriment policy to the University's Major Incident Team meeting (this is the senior team responsible for managing the uni's response to the pandemic). On Thursday we will be discussing it with the Academic Covid team who are responsible for everything to do with your academic experience. We will be pushing to make sure safety nets are put in place to protect your grades, as well as calling for uncapped resits

Update on our work to support healthcare students

The Union is hosting a Town Hall event on Wed 13 Jan, 11:00-12:00 for healthcare and social work students. This is an opportunity to question University leaders, as well as raise any concerns you currently have. If you can’t attend, we will make a recording available afterwards. Register now

Thursday 7th January at 14:39

We’re working hard to ensure that the University gives students a fair deal during this third lockdown. That’s why launched a petition to implement a no-detriment policy as an immediate priority. This petition also calls for the University to offer uncapped resits on all coursework and exams. You can now sign the petition on our website.

We are also calling for a refund for Brookes students who are living in Brookes or third party halls, or renting from private landlords. Last semester, the University listened to our demand to give students a 50% rent reduction during the second lockdown for all students living in University halls. The University has now offered over one million pounds in rent rebates for students in halls during the last lockdown. We want to see them follow the same policy this semester, now that students are being advised not to travel to their halls of residence in light of the third lockdown.